State Generation and Automated Class Testing

Thomas Ball, Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Naperville, IL, U.S.A..
Daniel Hoffman, Department of Computer Science, University of Victoria, Canada.
Frank Ruskey, Department of Computer Science, University of Victoria, Canada.
Richard Webber, Department of Computer Science, University of Melbourne.
Lee White, Department of Computer Engineering and Science, Case Western Reserve University.


The maturity of object-oriented methods has led to the wide availability of container classes: classes that encapsulate classical data structures and algorithms. Container classes are included in the C++ and Java standard libraries, and in many proprietary libraries. The wide availability and use of these classes makes reliability essential, and testing plays a central role in achieving that reliability. The large number of cases necessary for thorough testing of container classes makes automated testing essential. This paper presents a novel approach for automated testing of container classes based on combinatorial algorithms for state generation. The approach is illustrated with black-box and white-box test drivers for a class implemented with the red-black tree data structure, used widely in industry and, in particular, in the C++ Standard Template Library. The white-box driver is based on a new algorithm for red-black tree generation. The drivers are evaluated experimentally, providing quantitative measures of their effectiveness in terms of block and path coverage. The results clearly show that the approach is affordable in terms of development cost and execution time, and effective with respect to coverage achieved. The results also provide insight into the relative advantages of black-box and white-box drivers, and into the difficult problem of infeasible paths.

Keywords: Automated testing, object-oriented, black-box, white-box, C++.

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